So where were you all? Our 'Open Day' on Saturday
was very poorly attended even though weather was ideal
for a day out. Very disappointing, to say the least.
Our moth trapping, under the guidance of Peter Norman,
went quite well with a reasonable number recorded. Some
of these may be 'first's' for the reserve but we will
know once we compare lists and will update accordingly.
There was one small bonus - while wandering through the
'meadow' at the Community Reserve looking for potential
sites for the moth traps, we did come across a small number
of orchids scattered around, probably Heath Spotted Orchids
but we have no formal identification. Nice to see them
though. Peter also drew our attention to a fungus, bright
purple, called 'amethyst deceiver' which was one we hadn't
seen before plus he identified a few of the more common
ones. We would appreciate anyone with a decent (not necessarily
expert) knowledge of wildflowers and fungii to come and
identify whatever they can find as none of us really know
many at all!
Pond dipping by Andy Riches produced good numbers of the
'usual culprits' - lots of newtlets (Palmate ones), larvae
of various damsel flies, dragonflies, hawkers and chasers,
plenty of water boatmen, back-swimmers, pond skaters and
a leech. All very indicative of a very healthy pond which
is good to know.
Our thanks to Peter and Andy for their participation,
also to Karen who, alas, had little trade for her face
little to report about bird sightings at the moment. It
has been another bad year for our Mallard, only one brood
seen but, alas, it seems none have survived. Moorhen,
though, seem to have done quite well. Garden birds (Blackbird,
Robin, Dunnock, Sparrows,Tits, etc) all seem to have done
very well with numerous young birds out and about. Our
Swifts will be setting off for their winter holidays in
the sun about now. Swallows and Martins will also be on
their way soon. On a more cheerful note, bumblebees are
making the most of the blossom on John's hypericum bush
with around twenty White-tailed Bumblebees working away
most of the time and two Tree Bumblebees have also been
Further to our mystery plant (24th June), have
received two emails over the weekend, one from someone
identified only as 'Andy J', the other from Eileen Hayes.
Both suggest the plant is Ajuga reptans (Bugle).
This was a single plant, nothing similar to be seen, and
bears no great resemblence to what we normally call 'Bugle'
(with its deep red/purple flowers) that is quite prolific
in the area. However, we much appreciate the probable
identity. Thanks to you both.
On another note, where have our Sandmartins gone? There
was great activity earlier with a lot of very active nest
holes in the bank. We would have expected them to be still
there, probably looking at a second brood. But they have
all vanished, not even any flying around. In similar vein,
a pair of House Martins was busy nesting near John's house
and appear to done a similar vanishing act without raising
a brood. There also seems to be less Swallows than usual.
What's going on?
there were a dozen or so Mallard ducklings down at our
reserve but by Saturday we could only see four, possibly
five. The mortality rate is serious, whether by predation
or due to the rain (ducklings are NOT waterproof, if they
get wet by rain then they will die of the cold).
It gives us great sadness to inform you that Scott
Little, a greatly valued member of our commitee, passed
away yesterday. Funeral will be on Friday, 3rd July. Scott
was a stalwart of our 'work squad' and his practical approach
to our work was a wonderful asset. Never short to crack
a joke or to do a bit of teasing, his passing is a great
loss to all.
We are pleased to announce that our Mute Swans
have successfully produced two cygnets.
can any of you botanists out there identify this orchid-like
plant that we found on our reserve today? Not one
we have seen before. Very pretty and, yes, it really
is blue. Click for a bigger image. Answers to John,
A couple of unusual sightings by Dave Bradshaw
-"I had a garden warbler calling and flying back
and forward in the trees in Beechgrove Centre car park/Hope
Johnstone 7pm on 16th. On 17th at 13.10, Red kite circling
over the hillside bottom of the Cooked Road for about
4 mnutes, watched from our front window".
And three pictures from Dave - the first is a male Pied
Flycatcher, photographed at our reserve, the second a
male Redstart photographed in Bankend Wood and the third
of a Tree Pipit photographed at Earshaigs.
Our program schedule for next season is now ready.
Note that we will be starting a week earlier than usual,
our first meeting is on 4th September. You can
see the full list on our "Events" page.
Stephen photographed this male Pied Flycatcher down
at our reserve recently. This is the first record
of one there for about 10 years! Has been heard calling
regularly for the past two weeks. By the slightly
brownish(rather than full black) colouring, this could
be a 'yearling' male bird.
Latest late-April/May report from Iain -
Colin Brydon came upon three Dotterel on Swatte Fell while
out walking on the 18th April. While out delivering newspapers
on the morning of the 21st a skein of 40 Pink Footed Geese
flew over and 6 Canada Geese and 2 Cormorants were also
seen. A Common Sandpiper was reported from the Community
Reserve the following day with two Blackcaps on our Reserve.
Scott and Janet Little reported seeing a number of Wheatear
up the Crooked Road. Sandra Wilson reported a male Redstart
at Newbank Farm on the 25th. While out carrying out the
National Rook Survey on the 27th, I saw a Grey Squirrel
in Torthorwald Wood and earlier in the day while coming
back from Dumfries I saw a tagged Red Kite near Ae Village.
Nicola Bowden saw three Roe Deer in Park Circle/Fingland
Court area on the 28th which she photographed on her phone
and, while out at night counting more Rooks, the cold
snowy weather in the local hills resulted in over 60 Meadow
Pipits at Auldton with well over 300 Meadow Pipits on
Hunterheck Hill presumably because of the wintry conditions.
While out on a day trip with Lorna on the 4th May, we
saw a Hooded Crow at Kirkudbright and had fantastic overhead
views of a Red Kite at Stroan Loch near Mossdale. A Grasshopper
Warbler called at the Reserve on the 6th May while a pair
of Mute Swans began building a nest. Osprey sightings
are fairly regular with the local breeding pair and one
was watched by myself, John Smith and Doug Shilton over
The Green Frog on the 9th. Garry had a male Pied Flycatcher
at Three Waters on the 12th and Spotted Flycatchers were
back at the Reserve the following day while four 7-spotted
Ladybirds were seen while clearing weeds from some of
our planted trees in the Orchard area. Two Grey Squirrels
were reported from the Auchen Castle area though a good
few Red Squirrels were also reported in the area. Earlier
in the morning an impressive flock of over 40 Canada Geese
flew over Moffat. While down at the Reserve on the evening
of the 14th with Lorna, we saw a male Pied Flycatcher
while four Whooper Swans were on the lochan on the Community
Reserve. Garry reported a male Redstart at Toot Corner
on the 15th with two singing male Pied Flycatcher at the
Reserve on the 16th which will hopefully nest for the
first time in at least 10 years. The first two Cuckoos
and only ones so far were reported from Lochwood Oaks.
Two Hedgehogs were seen by Sandra Watson at Frenchlands
Drive on the 19th while my dad saw one near the Coop the
same day. A House Sparrow with lots of white was reported
in the Haywood Road area on the 22nd. While checking the
nest boxes at the Reserve on the 27th the following birds
were recorded, with more likely to use nest boxes if the
weather improves - 11 pair of Great Tits, 14 pairs of
Blue Tits, 2 pair of Nuthatch, 1 pair of House Sparrow,
1 pair of Blackbird, 6 pairs of Starling, 4 pair of Stock
Doves and a pair of Tawny Owl.....40 in total which is
good. A Peregrine flew over the Reserve with prey while
being mobbed by Swallows and crows. Garry watched a male
Hobby in the Barnhill area on the 29th May.
Italy visit report is now being typed up and will be posted
in the near future.
Our Coffee Morning yesterday raised a total of
£1501. This will all go to good use in maintaining
and improving our Dyke Farm Nature Reserve. Our thanks
go to all who helped out by working on the stalls and
behind the scenes in the kitchen, also to all who generously
donated items for the stalls. We also thank everyone who
attended and spent their hard-earned money in supporting
the Wildlife Club.
At a recent 'club night', Jock mentioned Tree
Bumblebees and suggested we keep a look out for them.
John picked up a dead one in Star Street this afternoon.
Common in Europe, it was first recorded in the UK in 2001,
it has been spreading steadily northwards and reached
Scotland in 2013, particularly along the eastern coast
areas. Still something of a rarity in our area.
(Added later). May not be such a rarity after all! In
evening, a few 'bummers' working the flowering cherry
in front of John's house. On closer inspection, at least
two (one quite large, one small) were also Tree Bumblebees.
Another, initially dismissed as just being one of our
very common White-tailed Bumbles, actually turned out
to be a Buff-tailed one (needs a good view to tell the
differenece), not all that common but we do do see them
now and then.
John also saw
a male Blackcap in his garden yesterday. Jock apparently
saw one earlier in the week.
Down at the
reserve this morning, some 25-30 Sandmartins are flying
around and exploring the holes in our Sandmartin bank.
Dave Bradshaw reports Chiffchaff calling in wood
above Beechgrove on Thursday and a Swallow over the Sports
Barn carpark. And, on Friday, Margie saw 4 Swallows over
the Beattock/Evan Water bridge.
First butterfly of the year in John's garden today
- a Peacock.
Dave Bradshaw reports that he and Margie heard
a Yellowhammer on Saturday near Station Park carpark.
This is the first Yellowhammer report for many, many years!
Also heard Chiffchaff in same general area.
Also on Saturday,
Iain counted over 1200 Pinkfoot Geese passing northwards
during his paper round. And down at the reserve, two Goosander
and two Teal were on the main pond.
Ball - "thought I heard whoopers calling about 11pm
last night so I got up early this morning and found a
couple of them on the MDCNR Wader Scrape about 7am. One
with immature plumage."
John had a walk round our reserve and noted almost every
ditch had a few frogs in it. The big ditch had very high
numbers, estimated at 40 or more over only part of it!
Two more frogs seen in the Woodland Pond and half a dozen
or so in the Middle Pond. Pleased to see quite a few Sticklebacks
active in the big ditch again following its excavation.
From John - was sitting in front of my computer
when a spider came abseilling down past my nose. Grabbed
the magnifying glass and chased it around the desk while
noting its appearance as it was a type I'd not seen before.
Got a container to hold it to try for a photo but, sure
enough, in those few seconds it had escaped somewhere!
However, after much browsing of spider info, I finally
got the answer. It was a Steatoda bipunctata, one
of the false widow spiders, commonly known as a 'rabbit
hutch spider' as often found there. Apparently quite common
throughout the UK yet first time I've come across one.
Signs of spring! Chiffchaff heard calling down
at our reserve yesterday morning.
A message from Jean (Hoppertitty):
"Thought I'd send you this pic of frogs yesterday.
Counted 22 at one point in our pond - plenty of croaking
and interestingly the copious spawn has been deposited
in a much deeper part of the pond this year.
Saw first bumblebee of this year briefly yesterday too.
Lovely to see a bit of sunshine."
(Photo has been cropped to fit the page
Frogs are also
active down at the reserve now with a fair number on the
Woodland Pond yesterday though none evident on the other
ponds as yet.
what triggers activity, a source giving lots of info about
frogs and toads states that activity normally starts when
the nighttime temperature reaches approximately FIVE degrees
over a few nights but can be occur when THREE degrees
is reached, especially when rain is expected. A further
source informs us that his frog activity always seems
to occur at the first full moon after the latter part
of February! John's frogs seem to have retired after two
weeks - night camera now showing only the odd one or two
- but still no explanation on why active only at night
this year, never in the daylight.
A couple of recent reports for you.
The first from Ken Hines, Smith Way,Beattock
" It's been a rather unusual year with little bird
activity other than the regulars, chaffinch, house sparrow
and starling. However the last week to 10 days has seen
a sudden influx of assorted birds, approx 30 siskins,
a similar number of goldfinches, 2 reed buntings, 2 lesser
redpolls and great spotted wood pecker. All this despite
same food being available all winter, no idea why the
is from Iain with various sightings -
Peter Ball saw and photographed a wader on the raft on
the Community Reserve lochan with a group of 15 or so
Oystercatchers on Tuesday 10th March. After having sent
photographs to various people and myself and Garry seeing
the bird on the Wednesday/Thursday it has turned out to
be a female Black Tailed Godwit......which is a great
sighting and to the best of my knowledge a first for the
Moffat/Beattock area. Also at the Community Reserve on
the Thursday were 31 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 4 female
Goosander, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant and the odd Curlew.
While last Saturday on the newest dug out pond on the
Meadow were a family of 6 Whooper Swans with 3 Curlew
passing overhead. Michael Currie reported seeing the female
Peregrine over Moffat for the first time this year today.
And from Ron
Lewis-Smith on the subject of frogs -
"Regarding the latest news item about the lack of
frog (and toad?) activity is most likely because of their
sensitivity to temperature. Typically, at this time of
the year, as soon as the night air temperature reaches
around 10 degC they suddenly appear in their hoards making
for their spawning ponds. I guess we haven't experienced
that so far, whereas we did by this time last year."
Very informative, but temperatures in Moffat are still
a long way below 10 degrees at night and John's frogs
have been busy during nightime but absent in the day,
quite a bit of spawn in the pond and there are still a
fair few frogs active at night. Looks like there must
be another explanation somewhere.
Surprisingly, few reports so far of frog activity.
However, the pond in John's garden has seen quite a bit
over the past week or so and there is a good quantity
of spawn now. Oddly, all activity has been during the
hours of darkness with probably 50 or more present. My
night camera shows frogs in plenty from about mid-evening
to around 5.00am when they start to vanish and by full
daylight there is only an occasional frog to be seen.
In previous years, activity has been going on both day
and night. Anyone got any idea why the change this year?
(Removed, no longer relevant)
From Ron Lewis-Smith -
At last seen my first brambling this winter -
in fact a tight flock of at least 200 on the ground and
in large oak and beech trees on the Alton Motte, and vicinity,
from c. 10-10.30 am today during flurries of snow.
This is by
far the biggest sighting we have heard of this season!
February 2015 - A change of program for the March
Our scheduled speaker has unfortunately had to cancel.
However, all is not lost as Bobby Smith has stepped
into the breach. Although we don't have his topic yet,
it will no doubt be just as interesting as his previous
presentations. See you there!
Have just received two annual reports from Andy
Riches. The first is for Castle
Loch & Hightae LNRs 2014. The second
is the County
Mammal Report for 2014.
Andy adds the following comment regarding the latter -
" You will have noticed that the Roe Deer distribution
map for 2014 shows a substantial reduction in distribution
from that of 2013. This is almost certainly not a true
reduction in distribution but a lack of records. It is
crucial to remember that the maps reflect records received
and there may well be areas and species that are heavily
under recorded. Under recording is a particular problem
with common species such as the Roe Deer or the Rabbit.
Now you know what I am looking for to include in the 2015
2015 - European Tree of the Year
We have a message from Jonathan Pinnick, one of the team
that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of
the Lowes -